Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sign of the Times

Years ago, I had The New YorkTimes delivered to my home, every Sunday. Making the Times appear, every week, in my driveway, as if by magic, involved a highly complicated set of arrangements, but it was an imperfect technology.

Every Sunday, I looked out my window, fully expecting that the paper would not be in my driveway. This expectation built up over time, mainly when the paper deliverer was a substitute for the main guy. A substitute is somebody who doesn't know what he is doing, because the main guy didn't tell him anything. I became convinced that the route I was on had no main guy - all the deliverers were substitutes - every week, a new one who didn't know what he was doing.

It wouldn't have been so bad if you could then call up the deliverer and have it sent over posthaste, but you couldn't do that. It was virtually impossible to get the paper delivered, if you were missed the first time around.

So I stopped taking the paper. Instead, I subscribed to the on-line New York Times. In a marvel of modern technology, an exact facsimile of the paper was delivered to my computer screen every Sunday, but I found that I couldn't read it. When a whole page was displayed on the screen, the text was too small for discernment by human beings. But, zoomed out so that the text could be read, so little of a page was shown that all my time was spent in positioning the window to follow my perusing.

So I canceled my on-line subscription, in favor of a technology that works. Every Sunday, I drive my car to the QuikTrip (where nobody knows my name, but they say hello anyway) and I buy a copy of the Sunday Times.

Before the recession hit, I had to get to the QuikTrip before 9 AM to get a copy. After then, they were usually sold out, in which case I would go to the Borders Bookstore in the next block. If Borders was sold out, I would go across the street to the Starbucks.

After the recession hit and the Times, in its wisdom, raised the cost of a copy to six bucks, I could come by any time during the day. There was no hurry.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Vanity ain't what it used to be

At my last high school reunion, an old geezer came up to me and said that he knew where I could publish my blogs in a real book for $200. I felt like Benjamin Braddock, hearing "plastics" for the first time. My reaction to the old geezer was, why would I want to do that? I'm already publishing myself for free.

But there are still reasons for wanting a real book sometimes. Sometimes you want to pay for publishing yourself. When I came up, self-publication was for idiots only. Idiots with money. "Vanity" was the kindest word anyone could think of applying to that kind of publishing. It was for suckers.

I see it differently, now. Print-On-Demand allows anyone to obtain, not just a bunch of bound books, but the whole range of marketing services that traditional publishers offer. If your stuff is good, the big guys will call you up. It's a free country, after all. The only difference between me and the best-sellers, is the sense of superiority that the best-sellers reserve for themselves. "Vanity" is the kindest word I can think of applying to them.

I will take what's left of the stigma. I will pay for marketing my stuff. The Greater Fool Theory gives me a better than even chance of recouping my costs. And if not, I'll still have a closet full of books with my name on them.